Dinosaur Feathers Were Colored
It is official—dinosaur feathers were often sported with color pigments. It is also probable that all dinosaurs (at least all predatory dinos) had at least some feathering.
Until recently, our only hope of accurately determining the skin texture of prehistoric creatures like dinosaurs was in artistic representations based upon a myriad of applicable bits of information regarding the recovered biological elements combined with period climate information and etcetera environmental considerations. However, now we have access to some more solid information, based on the work of a team of American and Chinese scientists who have conducted studies on the detailed feather pattern of Microraptor.
Dinosaur Feathers Compared
The team of scientists utilized a new specimen which retained several of the features lost in other fossilized Microraptor remains. The pigment cells available from this specimen were compared to the same cells in modern birds in order to determine similarities and differences. It is still too early to determine with 100 percent certainty the function(s) of colored or iridescent feathers in non-avian dinosaurs. It was long believed that most aspects of dinosaur feathers were attributable to fundamentally aerodynamic considerations. However, it is now theorized that many feathered dinosaurs may have been so due to behaviors of display such as in mating rituals.
Microraptor is a genus of small dinosaur dating from the Early Cretaceous Jiufotng formation, and lived approximately 120 million years ago. This species had four feathered wings and a bird-like tail, the fossilized remains of which have been recovered in fair number, and for almost two centuries scientists have studied the various specimens especially in terms of its apparent plumage. Microraptor has been recovered primarily from Lianoning, China.
Dinosaur Feathers Were More Prominent Than Once Thought
More recently, a discovery in southern Germany leads educated scientists to believe that probably all predatory dinosaurs had feather, not just a few. The remains in question were of Sciurumimus albersdoerferi, a predatory Theropod dinosaur. The recovered dinosaur skeleton is the most complete to be found in all of Europe to date and is a good impression of actual appearance. While the species here is new, it’s family ties are obvious and determinable to be remains of a feathered non-avian Theropodae Megalosaur dinosaur.
In another discovery, scientists have uncovered three new specimens from northern China which are the largest prehistoric dinosaur findings to date that had obvious feathers (or rather, featherlike filaments that were like a fuzzy down). The new species has been assigned as Yutyrannus huali, meaning “beautiful feathered tyrant”. While this specimen is smaller than T. rex, it is quite large at 9 meters long and 1400 kilograms in weight. This is roughly 40 times the size of previously identified feathered dinosaurs. It is thought that, without major color indicators or the stiff and rigid feathers that would carry any weight; the down feathers were utilized as a suit of warmth or temperature control.
We can be sure that as more prehistoric fossils are uncovered, that scientists will continue to look for evidence of feathers and color patterns exhibited by various animals. Furthermore, scientists are still bridging gaps among the evolutionary nature of dinosaurs and how it may relate to that of modern birds. There is much we have to learn from analysis of dinosaur feathers.